Every year around this time, I talk to Leigh Stewart. She and her husband, Jon, and Mark McCollum are members of the Weracoba/St. Elmo Preservation Society (or the Park District).
More than 14 years ago, they came up with the idea of having a family day in the park. Not to be confused with the WOKS-AM/WFXE-FM Family Day in the Park in June.
It all started with an old picture of Lakebottom Park when there was an actual lake there with a pavilion in the middle of the lake. Every Sunday afternoon, there was a band playing and families with picnic baskets relaxing.
“We used that as an idea of getting people down here,” Leigh said. “It evolved into music, food, art and lots of fun.”
The 14th annual Arts in the Park is noon-6 p.m. Sunday in the Weracoba/Lakebottom Park Bandshell area. It features art, crafts, children’s activities, food and music.
The Justice Family Bluegrass Band is one of the longest-running musical acts at Arts in the Park.
“They’ve been with us a long time, probably at least 10 years,” Leigh said. “When we first started, we had the (Columbus) symphony. They had to stop. So we scrambled to get music. Michelle and Terry (Justice) have been really great.”
Another long-time performing band is the Bob Barr Community Band, which will debut its new director, Fred Catchings, a retired Fort Benning chief warrant officer.
“His last command was the Fort Benning Infantry Band,” Leigh said. “He knows what he’s doing.”
I asked if it gets easier to put together every year. And she laughed before she said it does.
“We’ve got it all down now,” she said. “We have a check list by the month of things that need to be done.”
She still checks the Weather Channel about 20 times a day to make sure the weather will be good.
When I asked if she’ll give it up any time soon, she kind of sighed.
“It’s time,” she said. “It’s way past time.”
It takes about 20 people to set up the event, and she said the early morning is the most hectic.
“Our biggest thing is in the morning,” Leigh said. “It’s an absolute madhouse. You would think at 10 o’clock that we won’t straighten out by 12 o’clock. You’d never believe it.”
She’s still looking for a volunteer to step up to take over her duties. She may be waiting a while. That’s what happens when you’re doing a great job.
The Art Show and Sale begins at noon. Children’s activities — including the Columbus State University Rankin Arts Center (face painting), the Candlestick Clowns of Evangel Temple Assembly of God Church, Fish-Til-You-Win fish pond, Imagine Art Studio (art activities) and Jubilee Farm pony rides — are noon-5 p.m. The Springer Opera House Stilt-Walking Team will be around from 1-4 p.m. The Heath & Checker Shoe Band Puppet Show will perform 2-2:20 p.m.
Carson Hand performs at noon-1:30 p.m.; the Bob Barr Community Band, 2-3 p.m.; and the Justice Family Bluegrass Band at 3:30-6 p.m.
The Arts Show and Sale ends at 6 p.m.
Admission is free.
Sandra Okamoto, sokamoto@ledger- enquirer.com or 706-571-8580.